We Spent Two Days on Capitol Hill-- With Huge Success

We had the privilege of visiting with House and Senate offices regarding the American Conservation Coalition’s mission and the new bicameral Roosevelt Conservation Caucus earlier this month during our time at CPAC. The reception from Republican environmental leaders was incredible, and we look forward to furthering our relationships with these offices.

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In the span of two days, we sat down with representatives fourteen different offices including those of Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We talked conservation, energy policy, and bringing Republicans back into the environmental conversation. Although most of our time was spent with staffers, we were also able to speak with Senator Risch (R-ID) himself for a few moments about the rising caucus.

During the meetings we found that, contrary to popular belief, Republican members of Congress absolutely do care about the environment and want to find pragmatic energy and conservation solutions. While our solutions may not be as visible as the Green New Deal, for example, Republican lawmakers are working hard to propose essential and viable legislation to promote energy efficiency and conserve our environment. Legislation like Senator Barrasso’s (R-WY) USE IT Act and Representative Bishop’s (R-UT) Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act prove that Republicans want to be a part of the conversation.

Our meetings were so successful because we were able to counter the idea that young people always kick and scream when trying to make a difference. Our lobbying came only days after the Sunrise Movement took Capitol Hill, and to many congressional staffers with whom we met, the contrast was obvious. Even when we weren’t necessarily in complete agreement with staffers, we were able to have productive discussions and find middle ground on conservation and energy issues. Truly, ACC is changing the narrative.

The most exciting part of this lobbying experience, perhaps, was pitching the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus to the offices. This Caucus, which was subsequently covered in Time and the Washington Examiner, will create a forum for Republicans to discuss pragmatic conservation solutions. On the Senate side, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will act as chairs, and Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) will chair the House caucus. As we said throughout the course of our meetings, there’s nothing more conservative than conservation. This caucus really has the potential to apply conservative ideals to the conservation issue, about which we could not be more excited.

Without a doubt, our time on the Hill really set the tone for what 2019 has in store for the American Conservation Coalition. We cannot wait to build these relationships on the Hill even more and affect conservation and environmental policy this year.

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Jackson Blackwell and Karly Matthews are members of ACC’s Legislative Team.